Critically acclaimed writer Cullen Bunn has recently inherited Venom duties at Marvel, and while taking a break from symbiote filled antics, he had a chance to talk with us about his work on the series and a lot more. Check it out below:
UTF: What are some of the challenges of writing “mainstream comics” as opposed to your indie work with Oni? Is there a lot of editorial influence over what you do? Are there ever limitations on what kinds of stories you can tell? Where do those restrictions come from?
Writing a book like The Sixth Gun, which belongs to me (and Brian Hurtt) is obviously a different beast than writing a book that belongs to a company like Marvel. With The Sixth Gun, the only people I’m collaborating with are the editors and the art team. But with a Marvel book, I’m collaborating with a specific editor and artists, but I’m also working with other writers who are writing those characters in other books or may have plans down the line, as well as company goals and directives.
UTF: Is there any tension between the comics and movie production groups within Marvel– at least in terms of what kind of stories they can tell, what might damage these characters as “intellectual property,” etc. If you’re writing Venom it’s probably not as big an issue for you, since I think Sony has the movie rights to that character, but it might affect your work in other ways.
That’s a side of things I don’t really get involved in. I mean, the comics and movie groups are going to coordinate in a way they feel will best represent the characters and attract readers. For example, with the Captain America & Friends book, editorial and I discussed focusing on characters who had play in the movie version of The Avengers. It simply made the most sense for the book.
UTF: Are you excited at the prospect of writing Venom while Sony is potentially working on a standalone film for the character? Have you been approached by them? What would you like to see happen with the character if you were in charge of the film?
I think a standalone Venom movie would be great, and I’d love to see the current Flash Thompson version of the character on the big screen. But beyond the rumors I’ve seen, I haven’t really heard anything about a possible movie.
UTF: When you sat down to write your first official story arc as the new official series writer of Venom, what were your thoughts?
Rick Remender is a tough act to follow. I knew going into it, though, that I needed to do something a little different. I knew I had to shake up the tone of the book just a little, and I wanted to take the story in some new directions. I loved what Rick did with the book, but I figured I needed to take some steps toward making the book mine. Those kind of thought haunt me, though, because I’m never sure if all the fans are gonna revolt against me.
UTF: Was it hard to use established plot lines to formulate the direction you intended to take the character?
I try to view established plot lines as storytelling opportunities. Going into Venom, I knew I wanted to explore some supernatural storylines and I wanted to pick up on some of the threads I created in Fear Itself: The Fearless. In particular, I wanted Hellstrom to play a role in the series. Some of the plot threads Rick and company established in the Circle of Four storyline seemed to tie right into some of the things I wanted to do. I was thankful for the opportunity to tie some of those loose ends together.
UTF: With regard to Venom, will the symbiote-clad hero continue to be a part of the Secret Avengers following the aftermath of your first story arc?
Well, they’ve recently announced that Venom will be part of the new Thunderbolts book, so he’s definitely going to seeing some team action. As for his involvement in other teams, we’ll just have to see.
UTF: Where did the idea for Minimum Carange originate?
Editors Tom Brennan and Steve Wacker reached out to Chris Yost and I and said they’d like to do a crossover with Venom and Scarlet Spider. I think it was Wacker who threw out the “Minimum Carnage” title. Based solely on that title, Chris and I came up with the craziest story we could. I’m really excited about it, because it gives me a chance to write some stories featuring characters that I have wanted to do something with for as long as I’ve wanted to be a writer.
UTF: Will Scarlet Spider and Venom, perhaps have an uneasy understanding or even alliance following this arc?
I don’t think these two will ever be friends. There may be an “uneasy understanding” between them, but that understanding will basically be “stay away from me or I’ll kill you.”
UTF: How much of an impact will Minimum Carnage have on Venom moving forward?
After Minimum Carnage, Venom will have something of a change of heart in terms of how he handles his business. He’s going to see the absolute worst in both humanity and the symbiotes, and it’s going to shake him up a little bit. You’ll see a change in his M.O. once the crossover is done.
UTF: Do you have any plans to reunite Venom with his arch-nemesis, Jack O’Lantern?
I’m sure that given enough time you’ll see a reunion. For now, though, I want to move away from some of those villains. I loved them, but I want to try to tell my own stories. They’ll return, but I need a little breathing room before I head back in that direction.
UTF: Any plans to use Betty Brant in the future?
Betty will always be a part of Flash’s life, but she will not feature very heavily in future storylines, especially considering Flash’s upcoming relocation.
UTF: With the move to Philadelphia, what kind of interaction do you intend for the character to have with the rest of the Marvel Universe?
This move gives Venom a chance to shine in his own environment, out of the shadow of Spider-Man and all the other super heroes who flock to New York City. That said, he’s not going to be operating in a vacuum. With the “Monsters of Evil” arc, Venom will have an interesting… and dangerous… role to play that will root him in Marvel’s supernatural universe pretty firmly.
UTF: Is there anything that Rick Remender did with Flash Thompson that you didn’t agree with?
Not really, no. I mean, he took a character I didn’t really care about and made him likeable. His run on the book was awesome from issue to issue. So the only thing I don’t like is that it’s such a tough act to follow!
UTF: Will the events in the upcoming Spider-Man books bleed into Venom?
To some degree, sure, but it will not be a cornerstone of the book.
UTF: About the state of comics at the moment, there’s a lot more interaction between readers and writers because of social media. How do you think that affects you, your writing, and how you handle these characters?
I enjoy interacting with readers, though, and there questions and suggestions often help me determine what storylines are working and which aren’t. And when I’m approached with enthusiasm over something I’m working on, it just helps to motivate me. Of course, the flip side of that are the “haters” who like to take the anonymous power of the internet and use it to gripe, insult, and snark at me. At one time, they used to really upset me, but these days I just think they’re kind of sad and funny.
I can’t wait to see what Bunn has in store for Flash and the symbiotes. What do you guys think? Where will the series go from here?